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The Minerva Foundation for BC Women is launching a leadership development and career transition program for women ages 55 and older. Entitled Leaders In Transition, this unique pilot program will help older women align their skills, knowledge and values to transition to the next chapter of their lives in a productive and meaningful way.

By the age of 55, a Canadian woman can expect to live for another three decades, and as years of good health increase, the traditional picture of retirement is changing.

“Today, women who are leaving their careers voluntarily or through mandate are still vibrant and vital,” says Helen Dewar, Leaders In Transition lead facilitator. “They are looking for continued meaning in their lives.”

Typically, that meaning involves other forms of work, whether part-time, seasonal or contract. Some women go into business for themselves while others engage in job sharing or volunteering.

And the statistics agree. More women are remaining in or re-entering the workforce long past the traditional retirement age, and into their late sixties, seventies and beyond. According to Statistics Canada, between 1997 and 2010, the employment rate of Canadian women ages 55 and older rose from 16% to 29%.

This growth is likely to continue, as more highly educated baby boomers age and the coverage rate of pension plans decreases.

As more women enter career transition, the struggle of replacing the formal structure of full-time work with self-imposed efforts and timelines looms large—one of the reasons, says Helen, that women need support during this time.

“There is a fear factor among this generation of women about what is next,” says Helen. “They’ve worked hard. They are the first generation of senior-level women to retire and they are lacking role models and a plan as to what to do after work.”

That’s where Leaders in Transition comes in.

Through assessment and exploration, Leaders In Transition will assist women in creating a plan of action as they transition from full-time work to retirement, semi-retirement or a new career path.

As a pilot program, Leaders In Transition will kick-off with a two-day retreat, followed by six monthly sessions. The themes explored will include identity and values discovery; areas for continued growth; managing fear; health and well-being; finances and lifestyle and family and relationships.

By the end of the program, participants will have a better understanding of how the transition from full-time work will impact their lives, be able to identify the various paths that are available to women undergoing career transition and gain a clear vision of what their next steps will be.

Underpinning the program will be the opportunity for mentoring and connections.

“Having the chance to meet and network with other women in the same situation is invaluable,” says Helen. “As is hearing how other accomplished women leaders successfully transitioned in their careers.”

Leaders In Transition will accept 18 women to participate in the six-month pilot program. The deadline for applications is October 18, 2013.

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